In this guide, we walk through the steps to get LineageOS up and running on your mobile device. This guide assumes you have a new installation of LineageOS. Please read the instructions carefully to complete setup, install essential apps, customize the device, and become more familiar with your new operating system.
Table of Contents
- Insert Sim Card
- Initial Power-on
- Configure MicroG
- App Repositories
- Default Apps
- Install New Apps
- Personal Customization
- Hardening Your Device
- Transfer Contacts and Personal Data
Insert SIM Card
If your device is equipped to make phone calls using a carrier service, follow our tutorial to install your SIM card.
When powering on the device for the first time, go through these steps
- Power On: Press and hold the power button on the side of the phone.
- Warning Messages: You can safely ignore warning messages like "This device's bootloader is unlocked and its software integrity can't be verified..." or "This device is not running official software."
- Welcome: At the welcome screen, tap Start
- Language: Select your preferred language.
- Date and Time: Set your time zone and adjust current date and time if needed.
- WiFi: Connect to a WiFi network by selecting the name of your WiFi network and entering the passphrase.
- Turn on Cellular Data (if applicable): If your device is equipped to make phone calls and you have a SIM card installed and are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, you will have the option of using cellular data to complete the setup process. As always, charges may apply.
- SIM card missing (if applicable): If your device is equipped to make phone calls and if you do not have a SIM card installed, you will get this screen with the option to install one at this point or setup ESIM.
- Location services: Determine whether to give apps permission to the device's location data. Optionally you may set up location data permissions within the individual app settings later.
- Update Lineage Recovery (if applicable): We recommend selecting this option to receive software updates from Lineage for the Recovery partition.
- LineageOS features: Selecting this option sends anonymous diagnostic and usage data to LineageOS.
- Navigation: Choose your preferred navigation method. This can be changed later in system settings.
- Fingerprint or Facial recognition setup: Some devices are equipped to use fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock the screen. Follow the on-screen instructions or select Skip to skip this step.
- Protect your device: Set up a PIN, password or pattern to unlock the screen. This is an optional step however it will prevent unauthorized access to your phone by another individual.
- Restore apps and data: If you have a backup from a previously used LineageOS device, you can restore it at this step.
- Tap Start to complete initial setup.
Note: If you purchased a device with LineageOS for microG, then continue with this section. Otherwise skip to "App Repositories". MicroG is an open-source signature spoofer allowing apps that require Google Play Services to function properly. To learn more about the benefits and risks of MicroG, visit their website and read the FAQ.
If you install apps that require Google Play Services to function, you'll be wise to configure MicroG to restrict as much communication with Google as possible.
- Open MicroG Settings app
- Self Check: We recommend the default settings.
- Account: If you have a Google account and need to sign in, go to Account and sign in with your credentials. It is highly recommended that you do not use this feature as it will connect your device and identity with Google. Instead of relying on Google services, find alternatives that accomplish the same goal but respect your privacy.
- Google Device Registration: Enabled by default. This setting registers your device to Google services and creates a unique device identifier. microG strips identifying bits other than your Google account name from registration data. In other words, it creates a required identity with Google services, but as long as you do not sign in to an account (Step 3), the registration will remain anonymous. If you decide not to install apps that require Google services (advised) then disable this setting. Remember, our recommendation has been and always will be to not use apps that require Google services.
- Cloud Messaging: Disabled by default. The description says "Cloud Messaging is a push notification provider used by many third-party applications. To use it you must enable device registration." Some apps that require Google services use this function to push notifications. If you notice apps that you have installed are not sending notifications, then enable this setting. Otherwise we recommend leaving it disabled.
- Google Safety Net: Some apps from the Google Play Store depend on Google Safety Net to ensure the operating system is properly secured. For example banking apps like Square and PayPal, or shopping apps like Amazon require it. We recommend not to use banking apps or apps to make purchases.
- Location Modules: Go to Location Modules and check that at least one Network-based geolocation module and one Address lookup module are enabled, specifically "While using the app". For information about installing alternative modules, see more about MicroG's Unified Network Location Providers.
- Exposure Notifications: Disabled by default. To enable the functionality of Google's contact tracing, MicroG offers this feature. We recommend leaving this option disabled.
F-Droid: This software repository serves a similar function to the Google Play store. It contains only free and open source apps. Applications can be browsed, downloaded and installed from the F-Droid website or client app without the need to register for an account.
Note: F-Droid comes pre-installed on LineageOS 19.1 (Android 12L) and newer builds. If you do not see F-Droid in the app drawer, follow these instructions.
- Open Settings app > Apps & notifications > See all xx apps > Browser
- Under Browser select Advanced > Install unknown apps > Allow from this source > Enable
- Open the Browser app and navigate to https://f-droid.org
- Select the button DOWNLOAD F-DROID
- Allow access to files when asked and select DOWNLOAD when asked "Do you want to download F-Droid.apk?"
- After the file has downloaded, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap on the notification that says "F-Droid.apk downloaded"
- When asked "Do you want to install this application?" select Install
- F-Droid is now installed on the device
Aurora Store: Aurora Store is an unofficial free open-source software (FOSS) alternative to Google's Play Store. Simply stated, it allows access to apps on Google Play Store anonymously. You can download apps, update existing apps, search for apps, and much more. For those concerned with privacy, Aurora Store does not require Google's proprietary framework to operate. It also works if you decide to disable MicroG.
Use F-Droid and Aurora Store just like you would Apple Store or Google Play Store. Search for apps, download, and install. Both repositories will keep you aware of app updates as well.
Install Aurora Store:
- Open F-Droid app
- Tap the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner to begin a search
- Type "Aurora Store" and select the app name (subtitle is "by Rahul Kumar Patel")
- Tap Download
- Tap Install
LineageOS includes a suite of default apps.
- AudioFX - A simple audio equalizer app (not available on all devices)
- Browser - A simple web browser
- Calculator - A straightforward calculator app
- Calendar - To start using, go to app settings to add a calendar
- Camera - Open-source camera app capable of capturing still images and video
- Clock - The Android open source clock; includes an alarm, timer, and stopwatch
- Contacts - The standard Android open source contacts app
- F-Droid (if applicable) - Replaces Google Play Store as your primary app repository
- Files - A simple file browser
- Gallery - A very straightforward and easy to use photo gallery
- Messaging (if applicable) - For devices equipped with carrier services, this is the open-source SMS/MMS text messaging app
- Music - Open source music player; sorts music by artist, album and playlists
- Phone Dialer (if applicable) - For devices equipped with carrier services, this is the standard open-source phone dialer app
- Recorder - A simple voice recorder app
- Settings - The system settings app
Install New Apps
To begin searching for and installing new apps, use F-Droid to find privacy-respecting apps; To get started, see our complete list of recommended apps.
Simple Rules to Follow...
- Rule #1 Use privacy-friendly apps: There are viable open-source privacy-friendly alternatives to the apps you have previously used.
- Rule #2 Stay away from Big Tech: Apps made by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and other Big Tech corporations should be avoided based on their standard practice of selling your personal data for profit and tracking everything you do.
- Rule #3 Install apps from these sources, in this order:
- F-Droid: The best place to find apps is on F-Droid, a repository that curates privacy-friendly open-source alternative apps.
- Aurora Store: If you cannot find a solution on F-Droid, the next step is to search Aurora Store, an open source app that connects to Google Play Store anonymously.
- Direct Download: Not all apps have to be installed using a repository. There are several excellent apps available for download directly from their developer's website.
Make LineageOS feel more like your phone with these recommended settings.
- Install wallpapers: Select Settings app > Wallpaper & style to change home screen appearance (download our favorite wallpapers at https://digitalprivacy.shop/wallpaper)
- System navigation: Choose how you navigate with gestures by going to Settings app > System > Gestures > System navigation
- Add widgets: Add a clock or other widget. Hold your finger on an empty area of the home screen; In the pop-up menu tap Widgets; Select desired widget
- Display settings: Go to Settings app > Display to adjust brightness, lock screen, screen timeout, theme, font size, auto-rotate, screen saver, and more
Harden Your Device
- Reduce App Dependency: The fewer apps on your phone, the more secure and private it will be. We challenge you to only install what you need. This will increase available storage space and reduce the potential for leaked data through random apps.
- Review App Permissions: Apps don't always need the permissions they request. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See All ## Apps. Then select each app and review permission settings. Change to Approve, Deny, or Ask Every Time as necessary.
- Install a Firewall: Install a firewall like NetGuard from F-Droid to restrict network access on a per-app basis. Once installed, scan through the list of apps and decide whether to restrict network communication. Be cautious of restricting system apps that appear in the list.
- Setup Multiple User Profiles: If you must install proprietary (closed source) apps that are questionable in terms of privacy (i.e. for your job), create a "Work" profile and isolate them from your personal data. Learn more.
- Activate Private DNS: Why is DNS important? Learn more. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Private DNS. Select Automatic, or input a Private DNS provider hostname.
- Install a VPN: A virtual private network encrypts the data being sent from your device by tunneling to a VPN server, effectively cloaking your data and preventing ISP interception. Additionally, to the downstream recipient, your device's location will appear to be the location of the VPN server. This feature is useful when accessing websites that restrict access from specific countries. For a no-cost alternative that uses the TOR network, I highly recommend Orbot, available on F-Droid by enabling "Guardian Project" repository. There are also three free VPN services available on F-Droid: the CalyxVPN, RiseUpVPN, or ProtonVPN. However paid VPNs offer more features and higher speeds.
Transfer Contacts and Personal Data
If you are coming from an iPhone and want to migrate your contacts, photos, and other personal data, follow the guide Transferring Personal Data from iPhone. Or if you are coming from an Android device, follow the guide Transferring Personal Data from Android.